Like many people, I can't stop thinking about the Tsunami.
Lately a large portion of my brain has been busy thinking about work, which is a good thing. As a company we're trying to figure out how to implement our plan and this results in me staring at whiteboards and notebooks scribbling ideas and drawing pictures. There are multiple puzzles to sort out, decisions to be made, and things to create. It's where I want to be.
In parallel, there is a pocket of my brain fermenting ideas about art. At work I'm creating something useful; I also long to create things that are useless. Not valueless, but useless as in "has no use" and most importantly "can't be bought or sold."
This ferment has been sparked in part by watching Beyond Black Rock. In the last couple of weeks I've watched it four times: by myself, with Dia, with Trevor, Sara and Dia, and with my Mom. This last viewing was unexpected and very special. We watched it late on Christmas Eve after everyone else had gone to sleep. And mom got it. She got it in a way that stories and pictures and rambling accounts didn't previously convey. (I don't think I'd recommend the film to anyone who hasn't been to Burning Man and is thinking of going since I think you should just carry a blank slate into the event, but for Burners: go see it. Of course having just written that I'll contradict myself since I think the odds are greater than zero that I'll find a way to get my parents out to the desert at some point.)
The personal message to me from the film was: "Mark, get your ass in gear, start the wheels turning, if you wait until May to spring into action art will slip through your fingers." I've been dreaming art: structures, installations, billowy things, lights, moods. Lisa's been dreaming too and ever since she responded to my threat back in the Fall we've been irregularly trading emails, talking about joining forces to do something.
But what? It's too early to tell but there are a few things I do know. I don't want to make something that's a joke. Or ironic. Or shocking for the sake of being shocking. There's enough of that already. I don't want to pour energy into something funny. Something playful is fine. It's not that I think that approach is crap or that I'm above it. I just don't want to go down that path. It's probably the biggest reasons I stalled on the whole Live Wrong project. After deciding that the trademark threats were toothless I didn't take action to move the project forward and I'm figuring out that the reason is that I don't want to pour my precious time into a hack, particularly one that involves money changing hands.
I want to make something that is beautiful. Something that make people pause for a bit. Something that has an intimate depth as opposed to just a surface. Something that has whatever meaning you bring to it. Something without a punchline. Something useless.
Cory Doctorow takes Wired to task for accepting the "reality" of DRM and increasing restrictions on our right to do things with media in this great post which includes the following suggested warning label for DRM'd devices:
WARNING: THIS DEVICE'S FEATURES ARE SUBJECT TO REVOCATION WITHOUT NOTICE, ACCORDING TO TERMS SET OUT IN SECRET NEGOTIATIONS. YOUR INVESTMENT IS CONTINGENT ON THE GOODWILL OF THE WORLD'S MOST PARANOID, TECHNOPHOBIC ENTERTAINMENT EXECS. THIS DEVICE AND DEVICES LIKE IT ARE TYPICALLY USED TO CHARGE YOU FOR THINGS YOU USED TO GET FOR FREE -- BE SURE TO FACTOR IN THE PRICE OF BUYING ALL YOUR MEDIA OVER AND OVER AGAIN. AT NO TIME IN HISTORY HAS ANY ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY GOTTEN A SWEET DEAL LIKE THIS FROM THE ELECTRONICS PEOPLE, BUT THIS TIME THEY'RE GETTING A TOTAL WALK. HERE, PUT THIS IN YOUR MOUTH, IT'LL MUFFLE YOUR WHIMPERS.
I'm late to the gate with these acknowledgments of friends doing amazing things, but it's the thought that counts, right?
Someone once said to Dia something along the lines of "you are the average of your friends" and that seem right. It may also explain why I get so excited when people I know and love go and do things that are bold, cool, and amazing--they're raising my average! ;-)
What they are also doing is making me thankful that I'm surrounded by smart, beautiful, compassionate people. The latest hat trick of groovy new doings:
And that wraps up this edition of My Friends Are Amazing.
My mom commented to someone over the holidays: "I read Joygantic all the time, but most of the time I don't know what the hell Mark's talking about."
It could be I'm a poor communicator, but I think this comment was inspired by the fact that I'm all over the place with this blog. That's not a bad thing. It's an accurate reflection of the fact that my own interests and passions ping pong from thing to thing and many of the surfaces I bounce off of are geeky. I realize my mom could give a rats ass about mobile phones, for example. I'm noodling on the idea of starting a splinter blog focused on my professional interests.
Until I figure that out some of you will have to bear with posts like this, where I like to a couple of provocative technology predictions:
Oh my god.
What an incredibly tragic event. I started tracking things online sometime on Sunday and was once more bowled over by the reach of the Metafilter community, not to mention the general Blogosphere (despite Scoble's carping about the lack of blogging the disaster. Robert, chill dude, you need a few things to blog like power, connectivity, and spare time which I'm guessing is in short supply if you're looking for your friends and family, are recovering bodies, or generally trying to cope with a tragedy on a scale that's unimaginable to me. To be fair, Scoble apologized, but I think it's a great example of how easy it is to lose perspective on the actual physical world when you're constantly filtering it through an LCD screen, hyperlinks, and RSS feeds.)
I'm in Northridge California having just awoken from an unexpected multi-hour nap in which sank into the deepest REM sleep in recent memory. My dream could be turned into the plot of a video game or perhaps a John Grisham novel, but I can't say anything more without making my agent apoplectic.
And having received Eats Shoots and Leaves for Christmas (thanks Brian & Natalie) I am now terrified to use a comma or really any punctuation other than a period until I've finished the book. The em dash and elipse are currently standing in the corner enjoying a timeout.
Since I arrived in California on Wednesday things have been consistently pleasant. This visit to both our families has been delightful and effortless. Shit. This recent recurring theme of happiness and contentment is a big problem and surely signals the death of my master plan to become either a rockstar or a globally reknowned conceptual artist. I better get a new plan. Or maybe not. Perhaps provocation and beauty don't require angst. But I am fairly certain that my Christmas Eve karaoke at Jim's Vista Lounge (see moblog) rules out the rockstar career path. Conceptual artist here I come.